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tributed to a mere municipal faction, of a few weeks' standing! No, sir.
It was the infidel Jacobin faction, headed by the demoniac triumvirate, Robespierre, Danton, Marat, and other kindred spirits, organized and operative throughout France, that brought upon her all these woes. And though, when Robes. pierre became the sole dictator, he deemed it policy to check the most outrageous of these excesses, he still remained an infidel. He did indeed propose to the Convention the recognition of the deity, whom they had previously disowned; but this was all. Christianity he did not recognize. He therefore remained an infidel-and a heathen infidel too, decreeing that a day in each decade,(for the very week was changed into ten days,) should be dedicated to some particular virtue, with hymns and processions to its honour. True, he instituted a festival in honour of the supreme being; which festival would have been taken for a pagan one in a pagan country. “There was a general muster of all Paris, divided into bands of young women and matrons, old men and youths, with oaken boughs and drawn swords, and all other emblems appertaining to their ages. They were preceded by the representatives of the people, having their hands full of ears of corn, and spices, and fruits.” When the ceremony of burning the effigies of atheism, ambition, egotism, and other evil principles, was completed, “the young men brandished their weapons, the old patted them on the head, the girls flung about their flowers, and the matrons flourished aloft their children.” Well might he, two days after such a religious fete, bring forward no matter what law, for all the influence which that would have upon him. Admitted, sir, that he was a man of blood. So much the worse for infidelity ; for he was an infidel too! And this infidel guillotined his fifty fellow-citizens per day ! Such was the quantity of blood shed in the place of execution, that it became necessary to make a conduit to carry it off! Marat, once his colleague, usually calculated on two hundred and sixty thousand heads, to satiate his thirst for blood. Danton, the other of the sanguinary trio, was for great massacres, and done with it. “ He murdered to glut his rage; Robespierre, to avenge his injured vanity, or to remove a rival whom he envied; Marat, from the same instinctive love of blood which induces a wolf to continue his ravage of the flock, long after his hunger is appeased.” These three men, sir, were representatives of the moral, the enlightened, the refined city of Paris, and leaders of the dominant party of the nation-all infidels, valuing the lives of their fellow men not a straw. Paris was infidel; France was infidel; and their persecutions and murders were both religious and political, levelling at once the altar and the throne. All belief in future accountability was removed ; all moral restraint was shaken off; infidelity reigned ; and here is the result. 'Tis in vain to attempt to hide its enorinities; to talk of petty municipalities, and foreign emissaries. The French nation are involved in those crimes; their
hands are dyed in the blood of their king, in the blood of their priests, in the blood of their patriots, and in the blood of one another. May the Lord grant, that the day may be far distant, when principles which lead to such results as these, shall gain the ascendant here-principles which my opponent is industriously labouring to disseminate.
TO ORIGEN BACHELER
August 27, 1831. I pray you to bear in mind, that it is the authenticity of the Bible as a record from heaven which I question, not the general truth of many narratives therein recorded. It contains, doubtless, like all other ancient histories and remote traditions, both truth and falsehood. I look upon the biblical writers as ignorant men, who mixed up, as Livy and other ancient writers have done, fable and history. Such obscure, ancient evidence as this may sometimes furnish plausible grounds for belief of what is not, in itself, improbable. It may suffice to afford us a reasonable probability, that certain great changes happened; that certain remarkable men existed ; that this kingdoin was destroyed, and that empire established. Nay, some even of the minor details may chance to be correct. The Romans may have stolen the Sabine women while witnessing the celebration of games in honour of the god Consus : the Benjamites may have stolen the daughters of Shiloh, during the feast of the Lord at Bethel : Mahomet may have had four wives, and Solomon seven hundred : Idomeneus may have sacrificed his son, and Jeptha his daughter, in pursuance of a vow. equally foolish and cruel :* Joshua may have slain hundreds of thou. sands of the Canaanites, and Cæsar of the Gauls: Moses and Aaron may have been believed prophets by the Israelites, and the Delphic priests by the Romans; and in both cases the hierophants may have gained places and wealth and honours by the belief. There may have been-doubtless there werebloody wars, frightful massacres, treasons, burnings, savage laws, and expensive ceremonies, both at Rome and Jerusalem; for these were in accordance with the barbarous spirit of olden times : and then again, the dark picture may have been relieved
* Sanctioned, however, Leviticus, chap. xxvii. ver. 28.
by episodes of human affection, such as the friendship of David and Jonathan, or of Damon and Pythias. All this may be admitted, not by any means as certain in its details, but as probable in its general outline. But what then ? Because we believe, on Livy's authority, that Rome was governed by consuls, are we to credit his miracles also ? his fables of soothsayers and marvellous signs in heaven? of showers of milk and blood ? of oxen speaking? or of a woman changing her sex? And, in like manner, because we may think it likely, on Moses' authority, that Israel was ruled by judges, are we therefore also to believe, that God divided the Red Sea before his favourites ? that he caused the sun * to stand still to aid one tribe of bar. barians in slaughtering another ? that he burned in a bush without consuming it? that he transformed Lot's wife into a pillar of salt, and himself into a pillar of fire ? that he rained manna ? that he caused Balaam's ass to speak, and so on?
Historical evidence, even the most authentic, is scanty and insufficient enough, to furnish proof of events even the most reasonable, and occurrences the most natural and likely. There is the difficulty of obtaining impartial information, even on the spot and at the moment, and when no especial motive exists for misrepresentation ; there is the greater difficulty, if the spirit of partizanship mingle, in the slightest degree, in the transaction; the still greater difficulty, if the historian be removed from the scene of action; and this difficulty still infinitely augmented, if years or centuries have passed,' between the deed and the record. To this, in the case of ancient histories, written before the invention of printing, must be added, first the scanty oppor. tunity, as the work was never generally circulated, of its errors being corrected; secondly, the almost impossibility, either of obtaining or transmitting written records, unaltered by the carelessness, or the whim, or perhaps the dishonest intention, of the scribe; or perchance, mutilated or partially suppressed, by the librarian. +
To talk, therefore, of ancient history positively proving any particular occurrence whatever, however natural and probable that occurrence may be,, is to speak without reflection. To talk of thereby proving 'miracles—that is, occurrences out of nature, out of probability, foreign to our experience, discountenanced by all analogy-is to push absurdity to the extreme. To imagine that any thing, in itself so eminently fallible, can prove infallibility, is to violate the plainest dictates of common sense. AN INFALLIBLE REVELATION CAN COME TO MAN THROUGH HIS SENSES ALONE. It cannot be recorded, without losing its infallibility. It cannot be transmitted, even from a single generation, without becoming at once a human record, and therefore a fallible evidence. By Joseph in his dream,* the angel's declaration (Matthew, chap. i., ver. 20) “ that which is conceived of thy wife is of the Holy Ghost,” may have been felt to be revelation. To us, it can only, in the very nature of things, be human testimony; distant, uncertain, fallible, human testimony: fallible, from its very nature, however true the circumstance, however trustworthy the dream may have been. Without denying, therefore, that the angel of God entered Joseph's bedchamber, we may most positively deny, that men now have—nay can possibly haye-even the most distant approach to infallible evidence of this, through any written or printed record; or through any other medium, except a similar, personal revelation. Such an infallible revelation cannot be imparted (and preserve its infallibility) from one man to his brother; far, far less to his distant posterity. Supposing its reality, it is a revelation confined to one breast and to one lifetime. Its infallibility is totally destroyed by the very first remove, and its probability essentially weakened, (in an increasing ratio, too) by every succeeding one.
* If Joshua had known any thing of astronomy he would have written it, "the earth to stand still.” The sun stands still at all times
And yet a book exhibiting such palpable ignorance of science claims to be divine !
+ William Penn, than whom to a large portion of the citizens of this country, higher authority cannot be quoted, in arguing that the Bible cannot be the rule of faith and practice, says: “I would fain ask of them (those who contend for the scriptures being the rule ) how they are assured that they (the scriptures,) are not miserably abused by carelessness or design ; since we see, that using the utmost diligence, both translation, transcription, and printing are subject to numerous mistakes, and those sometimes verye material, against which the scripture itself can be no fence?-Penn's Select Works, London, 1782 ; vol. i., p. 302.
In thus speaking of the fallibility of the Bible revelation, I dive into no antiquarian subtleties; I collate no laboured histori. cal researches, ( inquire not what right the council of Nicet (or of Laodicea) had to decide, by its canons, the religion of the world; I ask not by what authority its reverend members admitted some books as canonical, and rejected others as apocryphal; I agitate not the question, whether any of the four gospels were ascribed to the authors whose names they bear, until the days of Irenæus; I refrain from all expression of doubt as to the veracity or sanity of the Christian fathers; I meddle
* It is not a little remarkable, that the whole superstructure of doctrinal Christianity rests, according to the evangelists' own showing, on a dreum. The corner-stone of Christian orthodoxy is the belief, that Jesus was supernaturally begotten, and the record of a dream said to have been dreamed by Joseph two thousand years ago, is the evidence-the infallible evidence! for this belief.
+ If we wanted evidence, by the way, how uncertain all ancient records are, we might find it, even in the history of this very council
" The ancient writers,” says Mosheim, "are neither agreed concerning the time por place in which it was assembled, the number of those who sat in council, nor the bishop who presided in it. No authentic acts of its famous sentence have been committed to writing, or, at least, none have been transmitted to our times."-Mosheim, i., 337.
Yet what event in all ecclesiastical history more remarkable, or more likely to have been faithfully recorded, than this?
# If the term seem too strong, let us read the following from the pen of the famous Tertullian, who flourished A. D. 200. “Why am I not ashamed
not with the inquiry how unlettered fishermen, speaking Syriac, should have learned to write gospels in Greek, nor how Moses could record his own death in the Pentateuch. I leave to others, more deeply read in controversial lore, the task of digging up these learned arguments. I speak as a plain man to plain men; of such things as all can examine and judge, without the aid of Lardner's folios or Horsley's criticisms. Enough for me, and enough surely for any reasonable inquirer, that the Bible is a record written by men, copied by men, translated by men, printed by men, transmitted by men, through tens or hundreds of generations.
I peruse it much as I would any other ancient, party history. When I read the history of Jesus, for instance, I can as little believe its miracles as those recorded by Livy. But the outline of Jesus' life and character (making allowance for the misconceptions or misrepresentations of his biographers) I ain disposed to believe. Jesus' history, apart from the marvels with which ignorance has disfigured it, is pretty much the history of all democratic reformers. He pleaded the poor man's cause, and was called the friend of publicans and sinners; he spoke against hypocritical forms and idle ceremonies, and was denounced as a Sabbath breaker and one who set at nought the law; he exposed the selfishness of the rich and the powerful, and thus incurred their hatred; he attacked the priesthood of the day, and by their machinations he lost his life.
This is a picture too true to nature, and too sadly verified by the analogy of all history, to be refused credit, merely because its outlines are awkwardly filled up. Besides, there is, mixed up with the mystery that beclouds Jesus' biography, too much of gentle, tolerant, high-minded principle, and too much of a liberality and a benevolence beyond the character of the bigoted age in which he lived, to warrant the supposition that it was all the biographers' invention. Ignorant men invent marvels and mysteries, and imagine adventures and intrigues, and paint heroes and tyrants. But they seldom invent tolerant democratic precepts, or imagine unpretending deeds of mercy, or paint gentle reformers. The inference is, that the picture drawn in the gospels had its original ; and that that original was a wise and amiable man ;
too wise and too amiable to be understood or appreciated by those who undertook to write his history. *
of maintaining that the son of God was born? Why? because it is itself a shameful thing. I maintain that the son of God died. Well! that is wholly credible, because it is monstrously absurd. I maintain that after having been buried he rose again; und that I tuke to be absolutely true, because it is mani. festly impossible.-Ne Spectaculis, C. 39.
* We have, besides, what I consider sufficient historical evidence of the existence of the Jewish philosopher Tacitus, in the celebrated passage contained in his “ Annals,” (xv , 44,)“ of which,” says Gibbon," the most sceptical authority is obliged to respect the truth” says: “They" (the Christians "derived their name and origin from Christ, who, in the reign of Tibe